Tropical diseases and rheumatic diseases 4/5 (1)

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Tropical diseases occur mainly in tropical and subtropical climates. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and especially parasites and can more easily attack people who use it immunosuppressive drugs against rheumatic diseases. The diseases can break out among travelers, and they are also increasingly “imported” with travelers from distant regions (rheumatism rats).

  • Symptoms can sometimes be confused with inflammatory connective tissue disorders such as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjøgren's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis and systemic Vasculitis (differential diagnoses)

The links below are information about some current tropical diseases:

Bilharziosis (Schistosomiasis)

  • Most cases in Africa
  • Bowel infection with parasite (chronic abdominal pain and digestive disorders)
  • Urinary infection (hematuria)
  • Chronic course with some fever and anemia
  • May cause chronic back pain and headaches
    • Diagnosis by MRI (localized inflammation) and Serum Schistoma IF antigen, ELISA Egg titer, Serum Schistoma IF
  • Arthritis is described (reference: Rakotomala HN, 2017)
  • Granulomatous inflammation
  • More about Bilharzidosis (Schistosomiasis) here


Dengue fever (breakbone fever)

  • Asia, Southern Africa, Central and South America
  • Virus
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Eczema (measles-like)
  • More about Dengue fever here


Yellow Fever

  • Africa and South America
  • Virus
  • Fever, chills
  • Nausea
  • Liver failure (icterus, jaundice)
  • Muscle pain, especially in the back
  • Vaccine is important preventive, but it is a "live vaccine" that cannot be used during treatment with anti-rheumatic anti-rheumatic drugs.
  • More on Yellow fever here

Leishmaniasis (Kal-azar)

  • Tropical regions (Africa, Asia, South America), Mediterranean
  • Parasite
  • Skin (chronic wounds): Months after infection
  • Wounds in the mouth and nose
  • Fever, Liver, Spleen, Anemia: Months after infection
  • Arthralgia and muscle pain
  • Increased disease risk among people using immunosuppressive drugs
  • More about Leishmaniasis here


Strongyloides stercoralis (Thread-worm)

  • Asia, Africa, Central and South America, Australia
  • Parasite in tropical areas
  • The skin (itchy eczema)
  • The lungs (cough and discomfort)
  • Intestine (slow or no bowel movements due to constipation / constipation)
  • Joint inflammation (arthritis) in the form of reactive arthritis has been observed (reference: Mohanty S, 2017)
  • At least 100 millions of people worldwide are infected. Among Immune-suppressed persons the infection may be serious

Zika virus infection

  • Africa, Asia and Latin America (major outbreak in Brazil)
  • Transfers to people most often via mosquito bites
  • Infection via sexual contact and via blood transfer is possible
  • Increased risk of harm to the fetus (mikrocephali) if a pregnant is infected
  • Symptoms (vary from no signs of disease to flu-like symptoms)


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